October 12, 2020 § 11 Comments
Immediately upon returning to Los Angeles I experienced more dangerous passes and near-misses than I had in the previous couple of years.
At first I chalked it up to the aggression of post-covid drivers.
Then I realized that I wasn’t using front and rear lights. On my long bicycle life up north and back, I’d dispensed with them completely. There were insufficient times and places to charge them and they seemed needless.
I wondered if my close calls in LA were a result of my “invisibility.”
Two days ago I began riding again with the blinding headlight, and yesterday added to it my Cygolite rear light. All of the close passes vanished, and only one irate driver honked.
His ire was silly but understandable. He’d had to “wait” going downhill while we took the lane at 30, preventing him from driving illegally at 60+. He was delayed ten or fifteen seconds, which he pondered at the red light we met him at when he finally sped around. I gave him a dirty look. [Note: Anger management still a work in progress.]
This is a friendly reminder that if you ride urban, lights work. They really do, and the more you have, the more you will be seen. As hostile as drivers appear, it is not planned hostility. They simply don’t see you until the last second, then get angry that you’re in the “way.”
A reader updated me that my prior recommendation of these taillights was even better than before as there has been a product upgrade with no meaningful increase in an already cheap price.
Discussing this with Baby Seal as he was varnishing the toilet lever for opening day of The Dropout Cyclery in Ye Olde Torrance, he said this: “When customers have a severely limited budget and are questioning the purchase of lights, I have no problem recommending they choose lights over a helmet. A helmet may sometimes save your skull, but that’s after you’ve been hit. The lights keep you off the hood of the car to begin with. And I encourage them to get both if it’s at all possible.”
Hard analysis to argue with. Lights work.
The point-one percent
August 16, 2016 § 27 Comments
Here’s a quick rundown of things that have happened in the last couple of months:
- Three cyclists killed in PV
- Crazy road rager assaulted a man and his kid for riding their bikes
- Friend #1 got run over on PCH in Malibu
- Friend #2 got terribly injured by hit-and-run in San Diego
- Friend #3 got run over in PV
- Entire club ride narrowly avoided being taken out by road-raging Tesla
- Group of angry NIMBYs tried to ban cyclists from public roads
- Surfer gang member advocated death for cyclists who break traffic laws
- Wealthy citizen compared cyclists to “dog shit”
It’s easy to think that the world has gone crazy. When bicycles are the enemy and cars are the hero, we’ve literally turned the Imperial Stormtroopers into underdogs.
Except, we haven’t.
These same last few months I’ve been riding almost exclusively in PV, ground zero for the bike wars, and I’ve been sticking to some of the most controversial residential areas where opposition to cyclists is supposedly fiercest. What I’ve found is surprising, and it’s this: Most people are friendly.
I make a point of waving and saying hello to everyone I run across. Except for a couple of incredibly sour people for whom death will be a huge relief (for them and for us), people invariably wave back and smile. I’ve stopped and chatted with Mark the Dude with the Two Giant Poodles, and Bob the 80-Year-Old Dude Who Has Run Across America Twice.
What’s more interesting is that I’ve had zero car-bike incidents. This doesn’t mean they aren’t happening; video from other cyclists proves otherwise. But by and large, people in PV are fine with bikes, especially when the cyclist is highly visible.
Since I began riding with super powerful daytime front-and-rear lights, I’ve become visible at all times. A 1200-lumen flashing headlamp gets your attention no matter how distracted you are, and a 100-lumen red taillight does the same.
What’s more interesting is that some very low-grade detective work has revealed that the “horde” of bike haters in PV is actually one guy using multiple fake aliases on social media to create the impression that many in the community share his views. The police know his identity, and although he’s noxious, crude, and wants to incite trouble, he’s nothing more than a harmless crank afraid to show his face in public, not to mention a terribly inept surfer.
At their worst, people may be slightly bothered by having to slow down for bikes. But the 99.9% hardly get enraged, and they certainly don’t wish for death and catastrophic injury as the penalty for pedaling a bike. Of course the .1% that do can do incredible damage, and they have.
But most people are on our side, and recently, so are the police. And 99%? The odds could be a lot worse.
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